If Toriyama's Dragonball introduced the concept of wacky, overblown battles and even wackier characters, Kubo's Bleach refines it, and bumps it up a few notches. Kurosaki Ichigo, the central character, can see ghosts, and, moody though he may be about the whole thing, does his best to give them the peace they seek. When he meets the zanpaku-to-wielding Kuchiki Rukia, a Soul Reaper, or shinigami, however, his involvement with the world of innocent souls and the monsters (Hollows) that feed on them, takes on a whole new dimension, as you will see. The animation is consistently high quality, and the story is prone to less 'filler' than its stable-mate Naruto, and its content is generally quite violent, though not when compared to other Manga Entertainment releases. Whether Ichigo is fighting Hollows with his massive zanpaku-to, or Ishida Uryu, a Quincy and opposite to the Soul Reapers in philosophy, or even the Soul Reapers themselves, which makes up the majority of the second and third series', the action is always smooth and fresh. The highlight of the first series, for me at least, is Ichigo's battle with Menos Grande, a gargantuan Hollow, which summarises well the ludicrous and mesmerising nature of Bleach at its best. Driven more by combat than Naruto, Bleach still retains impressive characterisation, and it can surprise you with just how emotional some of its scenes can be. I read the manga of Bleach, and it's somewhat disappointing that, unlike Naruto, the TV series is agonisingly slow to be imported to these shores, ever-broadening the gulf between the literature and the animation. Still, when each series does arrive, it is definitely worth the wait. If you are new to Bleach, then there is no better time to start watching it than now. Resplendent with pop-culture references, a killer soundtrack, flowing animation and characterisation, Bleach the anime is a more than worthy adaptation of the award-winning manga, and a great series taken on its own.